I am behind my computer today trying to catch up after two weeks of attending conferences. The first of which was the Bersin Impact conference in Hollywood, FL and the second was the Society for Healthcare Volunteer Leaders (SHVL) conference in Lexington, KY. I attended these very different conferences to stay up to date on the latest trends for departments that I lead: Human Resources (HR) and Volunteers.
While both of these conferences were very different, they had one very significant thing in common that relates to strategic marketing for entrepreneurs. A formal vendor presence. Here are some reasons why you might consider marketing your product or service at a trade or professional show:
- Captive Target Audience– If you are selling a cutting-edge HR software, who better to talk to than HR professionals attending a conference on the most up-to-date social capital trends? Once they find out the trends, they’ll want a way to implement it in their own organizations. Sell them the tools while they are there.
- Sales Leads– People like games and free stuff. You can cold call people all day and not get a lead, or you can purchase some fun swag and create a contest at your trade show booth. You wouldn’t believe what contact information people are willing to share for a free hoodie. Once you wrap up from the conference, you have an entire list of people to follow-up with. All of whom you have already established a positive, reward, relationship with.
- Scope Out the Competition– We don’t always know our top competitors until they set-up booth 10 feet from us. In this day and age companies are created quickly to fill needs in the business world. Sometimes companies make their debut or release upgrades at conferences. As a fellow vendor, you have full access to the vendor show floor. You can collect brochures and make contacts with other players in your area of expertise.
There are professional associations for just about everything these days. Don’t count yourself out of attendance just because no one else you know is going. A quick internet search can yield many results for your niche market. And don’t worry if the association you are interested in doesn’t allow for vendor booths at conferences. Join anyway. By joining associations, you can often sponsor speaking sessions or at minimum have access to basic contact info for fellow members.